The leading estate agency Romans has been forced to amend ‘misleading’ contract paperwork after the Property Ombudsman upheld a landlord’s complaint about continuous fees.
Karen Markham was awarded £408 compensation from a branch of Romans after it ruled she had signed a contract with the agency in Wokingham that breached the Property Ombudsman code.
The landlord bought her property from the firm three years ago, which she asked it to manage, reports Wokingham Today, but discovered the contract said that if she wanted to serve Romans notice, this could not be done with a tenant in situ, and she would have to continue paying commission.
The Ombudsman ruled that the terms of business and lettings did not clearly outline the circumstances under which Romans’ instruction could be terminated.
It said, it was, “not satisfied that this liability for continuous fees, without the ability to serve notice, was specifically drawn to the attention” of the landlord.
TPO added: “The fees in the contract are not expressed in clearly labelled sections. I have also not found that the contemporaneous system notes are sufficient to conclude that the indefinite nature of the rent collection service was explained sufficiently.”
It also criticised aspects of Romans’ communication with Markham as inconsistent.
Richard O’Neill (pictured), lettings MD at Romans, says the issues have now been resolved.
“We have worked closely with the trading standards office to review our documentation and have actioned their suggestions to improve clarity and avoid similar issues in the future,” he says.
“A review of this kind is strictly confidential between Romans and the complainant. Therefore, we will not be publishing the results publicly, however we have now changed our terms and conditions and we do not enforce old policies.”